A long time ago in a computer chair far, far away…
(Image of Ultima Online courtesy of MMOhut)
There is a stigma about MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) gamers that they are these losers sitting in a computer chair in their mother’s basement. They are people who have no life, no social skills, and are not marketable. Well, I have lived this gamer life for a long time and I’ve actually learned a lot from it. There are some lessons I learned along the way that I thought I would share to help dispel some of the negative perception of MMO gamers.
South Park, one of my favorite satirical adult cartoons, made an episode devoted to WoW (World of Warcraft) which was actually extremely comical. While it portrayed gamers in a negative light, it was actually highly received for its humor and spoofed or used a source of jokes in many MMOs. I have been what people call a “gamer” since around 2000 when I first played Ultima Online. I have played Ultima Online (UO), Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC), Star Wars Galaxies (SWG), WoW, Planetside, Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), Planetside 2 (PS2), Guild Wars 2 (GW2), and then ArcheAge. I also beta tested some of these games as well. As you can see, I acquired an extensive resume when it comes to MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games).
Here is a trailer with some game-play footage from a game I had been playing until recently:
I started out as your typical MMO n00b (gamer speak for “newbie”, or new person), I began in the typical casual type guild, I worked my way into guild officer, I’ve been a guild leader, and I’ve been an active member of power/gank guilds (note: gank in this instance refers to using guerrilla warfare tactics). From my vast 13 year gaming experience I learned something. Leading and being part of these power guilds is no easy task. I’d like to share some lessons from my gaming experience that can actually translate to real life or your job (yes, I’m serious):
- Coordination / Teamwork
It takes too long to type commands out, so constantly voice communications are necessary. You also have competitors, just like in real life, that you have to outmaneuver in order to get an edge. In order to do this, your team must be on the same page and executing commands flawlessly. Everyone has a job to do and if one person does not perform, then the entire team suffers as a result. There is also cause and effect, adjustments, and improvisation just like any project you may work on in your life. The more your team works together and learns from mistakes, the better your product or team becomes.
Sometimes you have to put your ego aside and realize that someone else may be right. I had an issue when I was an officer for a guild where another member was being left out. We ran a core group of people and we worked really well together, but we were ultimately a guild and not a niche club. This other person wasn’t that great, but to help keep our reputation good with our members and other guilds we interacted with, I had to make sure that this person fit in to our groups and got to do things with everyone else as well. I had to keep my pride in check, apologize, and make sacrifices with groups in order to make sure our “family” stayed happy. Just like in a job, sometimes you have to put your feelings aside and make sure everyone is involved. After all, you are only as strong as your weakest link.
In order to be the best, you must consistently rise up to beat your competitor. This means practice, sacrifice, long hours, and more. Sometimes your strategy does not work and other times it does. You have to learn to think on the fly, adjust your “perfect” plan, discuss and recover from mistakes, or even just keep working on the same boring thing over and over until it’s done right. I spent many hours over the years reworking gear, learning to fly solo or as a group, and listening to criticism in order to up my game and make myself a better player. Life can be much the same where you must have dedication to what you do otherwise your work is terrible and no one will respect you. You put in long hours to get your project perfect and sometimes you fail and have to go back to the drawing board. It is all about learning to accept defeat and make yourself better because of it.
Yes, your guild is a brand. You have an image and you have a place in your virtual world. You can be well known, thought of as a joke, or just somewhere in the middle. Getting to know other people is always helpful since you never know when you might need their help. You also make friends in case you ever have to jump ship from your guild to another guild or ask for something from your community. It is no different in a game than it is in real life. Sometimes the only way to get ahead is to have that connection with someone else. In addition, games come and go and you never know who you’ll run into in the next game. Jobs are much the same in this respect. This is why learning to network can help you. Besides, if you can build a relationship in a virtual world through text, then it should only help you in the real world too!
My hope is that after reading this, your opinions or views on the “gamer” type have changed some or that you now realize there’s more intricacy than just entertainment. It is amazingly complex and, contrary to some beliefs, it can actually be another form of work despite not seeming so by others who don’t live it. Some may think this is a stretch, but until you have lived it to see firsthand the dedication and work that goes into a game with its own economy, real estate, and politics, then you just won’t completely get it. These real life issues are what help make online gaming so similar to the real world in many respects.